Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Magic-Beano Book. (1943)

The Magic-Beano Book. Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by D.C. Thomson (no date, 1943?), 127 pages with black and white, and blue and red illustrations. (PLEASE NOTE: This book has been repaired.)

The Beano Annual celebrated 75 years of publication in 2013. It's had a few different names over its plentiful history and for a short period it was known as The Magic Beano which had something to do with another publication called “Magic Comic” and Second World War paper rationing. This particular volume is from 1943. As with many vintage books there is no date mentioned, but fortunately due to an avid fan base and wikipedia's quest to have all manner of useful(?) information at the world's fingertips, there are enough clues for me to figure out when this volume was published:

1943. Big Eggo and Koko the Pup are having a three-legged race with all the other characters running behind them.” Wikipedia

In 1943 there was a war going on and i'm fairly sure not very high on everyone's list of priorities was the publication of a large quantity of well bound copies of The Magic-Beano Book. Paper was rationed and the overall quality of binding, paper, ink etc of many books from this era was of a lower standard when compared to pre and post war (…this is a generalisation). This inferior quality, combined with The Magic-Beano being a childrens book probably published in smaller than usual print runs but probably enjoyed and loved by just as many children, means that a book such as this has been through the ringer more than a few times.

“This book is in poor condition. The cover is in poor condition. There is wear to the edges (scuffing, creasing, small chips) and corners (chips and scuffing). The spine has been repaired with binding tape. Part of the original spine has been stuck to the new spine. Some of this original spine has now come loose from the new spine (easily repaired). There is shelf wear overall including scuffs, marks, scratches, creasing, dints, etc. The cover is very worn. The book itself is in poor condition. There is wear to the outer edges and to the corners. The front and back endpapers have tape repairs to the spine hinges (it looks like the hinges split and required repair). The front endpaper has a name and address written on it and there is a hole on the opposite page.  There is some colouring in to the title page as well. The front endpages and the back endpaper, have extensive wear to the edges including scuffing, creasing, rips and chips. There is noticeable foxing in the book. There are a few rips and chips in the book and there is some creasing (mainly to the top right hand corner of the pages). There is yellowing of the pages. Overall a poor copy. PLEASE NOTE: If you prefer new looking vintage books, please DO NOT buy this one (it is very worn).” My ebay description.

Yes, this book has seen the war and managed to survived. There was some surgery done at some stage and the scars are still visible... but it is still here, unlike most of the other copies of the 1943 edition.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins by Sarah Lazarus.

Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins by Sarah Lazarus. Hardcover book published by CSIRO Publishing 2006, 210 pages with some black and white photographs and illustrations as well as a few colour photographs and one colour illustration.

I've only ever gone to see whales the once. It was part of a 3 day whirlwind trip around Victoria incorporating the Grampians for some Grampian action and then down to Port Fairy and Warrnambool for some Whale action. Whales are a bit fussy and only visit Warrnambool from late May till August and my visit was timed early in the season to accommodate the busy whale schedule with a week to spare... I sort of figured it would be a good idea to watch whales when they were fresh and not worn out by all the human watching.

Upon arrival I thought it might be best to consult with the local tourism office re the best spots for the perusal of whales as I felt fairly sure that going down to the beach and staring at the ocean with no point of reference regarding what were the best viewing spots, was probably not a good idea. This was a fortuitous thing to do as I was politely informed by the tourism advisor that they (the whales) were running a bit late that particular year. Yes, what was to have been the highlight of a quick jaunt around Victoria, ended up being a bitter disappointment. To this day, I haven't seen a whale in the wild. I would like to.

Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins” looks at the relationship between humans and whales and dolphins over the last 1,000 years. Humans have appreciated whales and dolphins in many different ways over time.  A small amount of that time has been in a positive way and most of it in not so positive a way. I have only appreciated them from afar and only in a positive way. This book looks at the subject from all angles and doesn't end with me walking away from the Warrnambool tourist office head down, feeling sad. There is some hope...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Tasty, economical recipes for busy Australian cooks by Lisa Loveday.

Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Tasty, economical recipes for busy Australian cooks by Lisa Loveday. Paperback book published by The Five Mile Press 2011, 167 pages with colour photographs.

A hearty soup in three-quarters of an hour? Roast chicken in 30 minutes? A sinfully sticky pudding quicker than you can imagine? Yes, all this — and a whole lot more — is possible with the new generation of pressure cooker. No longer to be feared, these days pressure cookers are safe, sleek stainless steel devices that can cook just about anything in no time at all.”

For many years now I have been carefully considering the purchase of a Pressure Cooker. It's one of those purchases that can't be made willy nilly, it needs to be considered and thought through carefully. The last thing I want is the wrong Pressure Cooker that will leave me with bits of food as my new kitchen d├ęcor. The publishers blurb on this book refers to “safe, sleek stainless steel devices”. Yeah, sure. I'm not convinced that they are all safe. All that pressure. All that food. All my walls and ceiling.

Recently I met an enthusiast... Yes, that's right, a pressure cooker enthusiast. This guy had amassed a collection of over 20 pressure cookers and was on the look out for more. Some people collect stamps, this guy collects Pressure Cookers. I thought all my holidays had come at once, he had the knowledge and was keen on sharing it and share it he did... and forget his shared knowledge I promptly then did. Damn it!!! I had it and it's now gone.

In the mean time I have found this imaginatively entitled Pressure Cooker cookbook and it has got some fantastic recipes that make me salivate and realise that I really should move towards the pressure. Pressure Cooker collector, if you're reading this, I humbly ask for your advice once more... and this time I wont forget.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton + In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir by Dick Cheney

Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hardcover book published by Simon & Schuster 2014, 635 page with some colour photographs.

In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir by Dick Cheney.  Hardcover book published by Threshold Editions 2011, 565 pages with some black and white and some colour photographs.

"HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON'S INSIDE ACCOUNT OF THE CRISES, CHOICES AND CHALLENGES SHE FACED DURING HER FOUR YEARS AS AMERICA S 67TH SECRETARY OF STATE, AND HOW THOSE EXPERIENCES DRIVE HER VIEW OF THE FUTURE. All of us face hard choices in our lives, Hillary Rodham Clinton writes at the start of this personal chronicle of years at the centre of world events. Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become. In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, she expected to return to representing New York in the Unites States Senate. To her surprise, her formal rival for the Democratic Party nomination, newly elected President Barack Obama, asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. This memoir is the story of the four extraordinary and historic years that followed, and the hard choices that she and her colleagues confronted."

"In his enlightening and provocative memoir—a stately page-turner with flashes of surprising humor, remarkable candor, and powerful resonance—former Vice President Dick Cheney takes readers through his experiences as family man, policymaker, businessman, and politician during years that shaped our collective history.  Eyewitness to events at the highest levels, Dick Cheney brings to life scenes from past and present: He chronicles his coming-of-age as a high school athlete in Casper, Wyoming, and courting homecoming queen Lynn Vincent, his future wife. He describes driving through the White House gates just hours after the 1974 resignation of Richard Nixon, to manage the Ford transition. He portrays his response to the national crisis of 9/11, when he conveyed orders from the White House bunker to shoot down a hijacked airliner if it would not divert."

The art of the political memoir is an art that I have very little appreciation for (... i have read none). I remember when Julia Gillard became prime minister of Australia and she revealed that her primary reading pleasures were political biographies. Upon finding this out I was as dumbfounded and shocked as I was watching the The Red Wedding. How could she? This revelation of hers nearly lost her my vote, until I realised that my prejudice was... a prejudice, and that as with most things in life, we all have different tastes and appreciations on everything and anything, including political biographies.

So why do people write political memoirs/biographies? Is it the money? I can't imagine Hillary or Dick being short of a few quid... and i'm fairly sure Julia, who has also put pen to paper, gets some sort of pocket money. I believe it's to do with historical footprints. You know, making sure people understand what you did and why you did it, which is why Dick Cheneys book needed to be written as i'm sure there are many people all over the world who are as perplexed as I am by Dick. Saying that, I personally don't want to read his justifications. Hillary probably also wants to make sure that people understand what she did, particularly as there are a few contentious issues re her time as Secretary of State that she probably wants to clear up before she makes a run for the top job. I'm also not tempted by Hillarys book.

Like Julia Gillard there are many people out there who eagerly consume political memoirs. I don't know Julia but I do know a few people who eagerly await the publication of new memoirs... even memoirs by foreign politicians... maybe not all foreign politicians, just the interesting ones. The big question is do these books sell? Yes and no. There are some politicians who remain a fascination and interest in the eye of the public long after their 15 minutes and there are those who you wonder who the hell are they? and why is there a book about them? Hillary and Dick are both people that have remained “of interest” for a lot longer than most and even if their books are here in a foreign country, both of them are big enough recent historic figures to be “of interest”.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Specimen Types: Suitable for Both Book and Display Printing. Issued by Jarrold & Sons Limited, The Empire Press, Norwich & London.

Specimen Types: Suitable for Both Book and Display Printing. Issued by Jarrold & Sons Limited, The Empire Press, Norwich & London. Hardcover book published by Jarrold & Sons (no date,probably 1940s or 1950s), approx 39 pages with examples of type (fonts etc) in black and red and with a few tipped in colour illustrations.

This little book is intended to supplant the vast and bulky portfolio of 'specimens' that so many printers are forced to carry around with them; and to give in the space of a few pages a synopsis of the more important types stocked by Messrs. Jarrold & Sons Ltd., and some idea of the manner in which these types can be handled. The frontispiece and illustrations at the end of the book show the various subsidiary processes which can be handled at Norwich—colour, half-tone, offset, and so on.”

Before the computer and way before the interwebs, people would look at hard copy printed examples of fonts/type. Yep, it's hard to believe that there was once a need for a book of type such as this, but there was. This was an era when there was no font option in a box at the top of a computer screen and there were no font websites where you could download as many crazy fonts as your hard drive could store. It was a different world back then and printers (… these were people who printed things) would actually print examples to demonstrate their fonty dexterity.

Recently i've found a few of these catalogues (?) and I do like the look and overall ambiance that these pages create. It's sort of like printing on it's best behaviour as generally speaking these specimen catalogues tend to show off a printers outstanding abilities with type, ink, layout and paper. The people at Jarrold & Sons are no exception to this generalisation and they did manage to put out this lovely catalogue. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Geometrical Drawing For Art Students by I.H. Morris.

Geometrical Drawing For Art Students by I.H. Morris. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Longmans, Green and Co 1941, 228 pages with black and white illustrations and a few black and white photographs.

“This little book has been prepared to meet the wants of those students who only require the Geometry necessary for the Art Student’s course. The book contains over seven hundred figures arranged in a convenient form, and a very complete and exhaustive collection of exercises. The chapter on Solid Geometry has been made unusually full, as the Author’s experience is that one of the student’s chief difficulties is the want of sufficient variety of examples in this important branch of the subject.”

I'm not sure if art students or even fully qualified card carrying artists (?) still use geometry in their work and if they do, do they study it with the same detail as is in this book. I don't want to sound derogatory or negative about modern art, (I actually prefer the new to the old) but for some reason I can't imagine Grayson Perry trying to figure out how “To divide a triangle into any number of equal parts by lines drawn from a point in one of the sides.”* Has Damien Hirst ever considered how to “construct a regular hexagon on a given line, AB (special method)”**? Somehow I don't think he has.*** I'm sure there are artists out there who do consider these and other pressing questions of Geometrical drawing and it is a book like this that should answer all their questions... as long as some of those questions are in inches.

*Page 104
** Page 38
*** ... based on uninformed guess work.